Reducing the Digital Divide among Children Who Received Desktop or Hybrid Computers for the Home

Gila Cohen Zilka
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 15  •  2016  •  pp. 233-251
Researchers and policy makers have been exploring ways to reduce the digital divide. Parameters commonly used to examine the digital divide worldwide, as well as in this study, are: (a) the digital divide in the accessibility and mobility of the ICT infrastructure and of the content infrastructure (e.g., sites used in school); and (b) the digital divide in literacy skills. In the present study we examined the degree of effectiveness of receiving a desktop or hybrid computer for the home in reducing the digital divide among children of low socio-economic status aged 8-12 from various localities across Israel. The sample consisted of 1,248 respondents assessed in two measurements. As part of the mixed-method study, 128 children were also interviewed. Findings indicate that after the children received desktop or hybrid computers, changes occurred in their frequency of access, mobility, and computer literacy. Differences were found between the groups: hybrid computers reduce disparities and promote work with the computer and surfing the Internet more than do desktop computers. Narrowing the digital divide for this age group has many implications for the acquisition of skills and study habits, and consequently, for the realization of individual potential. The children spoke about self improvement as a result of exposure to the digital environment, about a sense of empowerment and of improvement in their advantage in the social fabric. Many children expressed a desire to continue their education and expand their knowledge of computer applications, the use of software, of games, and more. Therefore, if there is no computer in the home and it is necessary to decide between a desktop and a hybrid computer, a hybrid computer is preferable.
Information and communication technology (ICT), digital divide, disadvantaged populations, desktop computers, hybrid computers, E-Readiness
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